Brand encourages some 'bumming': British comedian kicks off tour at EMU

By Jerome Stuart Nichols | Life Editor
Added November 16, 2011 at 11:54 pm

Russell Brand is the kind of celebrity that people either love or hate. He’s got a rather polarizing personality and even more polarizing public persona. He’s made a career in America of being the most outlandish Brit to cross the Atlantic since Gordon Ramsay.

When it was announced that Brand would be rushing the stage of Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center, the reaction was phlegmatic. Ticket sales were slow and many students seemed blissfully unaware of the notorious comedian’s arrival.

Fast forward to Tuesday evening and the buzz about Brand’s imminent appearance had risen considerably. Facebook and Twitter was filled with post about the show. When Wednesday afternoon came around and stories of Russell Brand sightings starting flooding in to our offices, it was clear the anticipation for the show had reached a spike.

As everyone piled into the Convocation Center it was clear that the buzz had turned into ticket sales.

Before Brand took the stage, the crowd was introduced to two new comics from Ann Arbor; Eli Yuden and Skylar Foltey. Yuden captured the crowd early and carried them through his five minute set. Foltey, on the other hand, received a more tepid response.

After the opening acts and a short break, it was time for the main act. The very mention of Brand’s name by the night’s MC brought from the crowd a feverish roar of applause and cheers. When he finally emerged from his hiding place a few feet off stage, the crowd went absolutely insane. People all around the venue stood up, jumped up and quite a few young women emitted behavior that, under normal circumstances, would be grounds for forcible institutionalization.

The oddly hilarious comedian began the show with an extended play to the audience. Almost as soon as he took stage, he lept off the front and began shaking hands and complementing the breasts of several sorority members in the front row. Not to leave the fraternity members out, he also complemented several fraternity members on the rectal fortitude.

After returning to the stage the main show began.

Brand’s blend of intentionally raunchy humor and sharp wit were clear from the outset of the show. The first story in his 90-minute set was a behind-the-scene look at the jokes he would have told at the 2009 MTV Music Video Awards if Kanye West hadn’t stolen the show with his Courvoisier fueled, pro-Beyoncé diatribe.

The jokes, which included one highlighting the menstrual benefits of dating a vampire and another shaming Twilight actor Robert Pattinson for having his hand “in the little metal [tampon] bin in the stall,” landed quite well and set the tone for the rest of the evening.

Brand followed his Twilight-inspired humor with stories about his wife Katy Perry, anal sex, Sharon Stone, Cindy Crawford and Lionel Ritchie. The story about Sharon Stone and Cindy Crawford include a wonderfully bright reference to anal dilation, which was definitely not the last reference he made to, as he called it, “bumming.”

For the rest of the show, Brand kept up the pace, humor and energy. The crowd was responsive to every joke and even followed along with a 15-minute diversion, which included bringing three audience members on stage. Two of them, Allison and Chris, he set up on a date and the third, Gabe, he encouraged to call a gay massage club to set up a meeting. He actually called the unsuspecting woman live on stage and entertained her with a little ditty that included lyrics with even more references to ‘bumming.’

As the show began to wind down, he left the crowd with a final rant about a particular Twitter user who “loves my wife but he fucking hates me.” He also gave the crowd some encouraging words about social and political change, which was an oddly placed preamble to the Twitter monologue.

Brand ended the show with the promise to sign as many “breasts” and “penises as possible.” Although he was quickly whisked away, he still fulfilled that promised as he smiled, shook hands and signed as well as kissed various portions of the audience’s anatomy.

It didn’t really matter if he fulfilled the promise or not because he still received a round of thunderous applause as he exited stage right. A polarizing figure he may be, but tonight, in the heart of Ypsilanti, it was clear that Russell Brand encouraged nothing but love and anal intercourse.

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